Lex Luthor

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by safarial, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. Cicero

    Cicero Admiral Admiral

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    It was only about a year, actually

    An artist mistakenly rendered him bald in the newspaper strip (which was in continuity at the time), and it was decided that the accidental look was a better one for the character. Ergo, Lex Luthor is bald. :)
     
  2. ElScoob

    ElScoob Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think that hits on a lot of what I love about Luthor. He is supremely capable, but also supremely human and fallible.

    Unlike certain blue suited boy scouts we could mention, he is not invulnerable to human frailties. But he has--quite on his own--nonetheless surpassed a lot of human frailties. A being who is vulnerable only to magic and to certain cosmically rare radioactive rocks is not really that much of a foe, on paper, to someone of Luthor's intellect.

    Perhaps on some level Lex is really annoyed that some weird alien who can outrun high-velocity projectiles, vault skyscrapers, and out-heft diesel engines comes out as being somehow morally superior. Can't people see that the incalculable intellect of Luthor outweighs some extraterrestrial circus freak in spandex when it comes to determining what's really right for people?

    (It says something about the people of the DC Universe that they voted Luthor in 2000. I mean, W had neither the brains nor the brawn going for him on Earth-Sort-Of-Prime... maybe Tom Welling-Prime could punch a wall and retcon things so that Luthor was POTUS for the last eight years... would we be worse off with a super-intelligent supervillain in the White House than with his Bizarro-counterpart?)
     
  3. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Luthor only appeared two times with hair, ca. 1940. In one of those stories, he had a bald assistant. In his third story, the artist (keeping in mind that there was actually a small stable of artists working under the name of original Superman artist Joe Schuster at that point) drew Luthor as a bald guy who looked an awful lot like the assistant from the prior story. It's believed that the artist simply hadn't read the prior story carefully enough when he looked at it for reference. But the look stuck, and Luthor was bald from then on.

    Now in the Bronze Age, by which point the adventures of the Golden Age Superman up through about 1950 were declared to have happened on Earth-2, they depicted Earth-2's Superman as being surrounded by trappings that came from the earliest Superman stories, even though most of those trappings (such as the Daily Star, George Tyler, etc.) had faded away much earlier, generally around 1940 or so. So it was established that Earth-2's Luthor had always had hair--to the point that, in an issue of All-Star Squadron that touched upon the events of a 1942 Luthor appearance, Luthor was retroactively shown to have the head of hair, even though the actual story had featured a bald Luthor.
     
  4. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Thanks, guys... guess I'd been "fooled" by some retconning (I'm a bit young to have read the original books and was going by the "Earth2" stuff you mentioned there.)
     
  5. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's a really great way to put it.
     
  6. RaymondJames

    RaymondJames Captain Captain

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    its all about the baldness.
     
  7. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    John Byrne got it right in his approach. They used to call Luthor the most powerful man in Metropolis. His ego couldn't take the "used to".
     
  8. YLu

    YLu Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I think it's interesting how a lot of the responses focus on how Luthor is a sympathetic or relateable character, considering that John Byrne's stated that his goal when revamping Luthor was to create a villain who was completely and utterly unsympathetic. Someone whose motivations were not even the smallest extent justifiable.

    Just as Superman is someone who does the right thing not because of some childhood trauma or other such defining moment but simply because it's the right thing to do, Byrne wanted a Luthor who was a monster for no other reason than because he chose to be.

    I guess he failed?
     
  9. Jetfire

    Jetfire Guest

    Lex is the Anti-Superman. Distrust, injustice and the American way gone horribley wrong.






    JF
     
  10. Galactus

    Galactus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No he was successful. The problem is that people actually like all of those things now.
     
  11. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    There's also the cool Human vs Alien angle.
     
  12. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Well, considering how Byrne portrayed the guy in "The Man of Steel," I suppose that's possible... but can you provide a source?

    The reality is that no character who's portrayed as a mustachio-twirling-villain is REMOTELY interesting. Can you name ANY villain who is interesting who is that sort of cardboard cutout?

    Now, let's talk about the guy who is still probably the best-recognized "sheer evil" character in modern filmmaking. Hannibal Lector. Lector is undeniably evil by ANY measure, wouldn't you all agree? But that wasn't what made the character so effective, was it? It's not like he's the first murdering cannibal in fiction, after all, is it? And it's not like he's the first "charming" villain, is it?

    What make Lector so effective as a source of outright HORROR?

    Basically, it's that you're allowed to get into the character's mind during the films. The audience starts to "get" Lector... even (on some strange level) to RELATE to him. That's the real source of horror in that character... not "what he does," but that you, as a member of the audience, don't really MIND him taking off the top of a guys skull and braising a bit of his frontal lobe. Tell me, boys and girls, that you didn't have that reaction... ;)

    Where am I going with this? Well, I'm saying that a character is effective ONLY if the audience can see things through their eyes. Luthor is only effective if you, the reader or viewer, can see the world through his eyes.

    Doesn't mean you have to AGREE with how he sees it. Just that there has to be a logic to what he's doing that makes sense when seen from his own perspective.

    Nobody is saying that they see Luthor as SYMPATHETIC or as "the good guy," are we? No... we're saying that the most interesting version of the character is the one where HE sees himself as "the good guy."

    Otherwise, he's just a bland, cardboard character, twirling his figurative mustache and tying Lois Lane to the train tracks just for the sake of "being evil." Which makes for HORRIBLE storytelling, doesn't it?
     
  13. Galactus

    Galactus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think you are wrong. I think many people that like Luthor do so because they actually agree with him. We you say things like I respect the character, that says a lot.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2008
  14. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    I think it comes down to the idea that nobody really thinks of themselves as "evil". Even Hitler must have thought that he was "right" in his own mind. That doesn't make him "sympathetic" by any means.

    EDIT: I feel like Jack Kirby, having used a word in "quotes" in every sentence!
     
  15. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You can respect someone without agreeing with their positions. I respect anyone who takes a stand, has intelligence and determination and a certain stylish verve. Luthor has all of that and more.

    Cary makes a great point about Lecter and the comparisons to Luthor. They're wonderful examples of larger-than-life characters that have a certain magnetic charm. Like a snake moving in for the kill, you can't help but be impressed by their extreme, but perfectly "fit for purpose" natures - true "love to hate" characters.

    It's the same as being impressed/awed by the extreme elegance and destructive power of a Titan Missile. Form and function aligned with aesthetic perfection. Luthor, Lecter, Professor Moriarty, Lucifer, Sauron, etc are all similar extreme & chillingly beautiful embodiments of evil. Like a shark, they're terrifyingly beautiful because everything about them is wonderfully fit for purpose. Impressive, regardless of whether you agree with their aims.
     
  16. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    ^Darth Vader, before he'd ever uttered the words, "I am your father," was an awesomely badass villain. That doesn't mean we were cheering for the Empire.
     
  17. blaXXer

    blaXXer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    *I* was ;)
     
  18. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    You have contradicted me for the last time, blaXXer...! [Tries to do remote Force-choke.]
     
  19. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Surely apart from the Emperor, and his top level croneys, everyone in the empire not only thought that the empire was a good idea, but that the Empire was a force for goodness and light? it's unthinkable the trillions and trillions of Imperial Citizens woke up everyone morning with a thinking it's great to be evil?

    It was just the government. Take a good look at your own government.

    I liked it Man of Steel, how Luthor assumed that he was about 5 minutes away from banging Lois Lane before Superman showed up. That girl gets a clit-boner from power.
     
  20. Galactus

    Galactus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I am sorry but I could not disagree more, especially with the characters that you named. There is absolutely nothing respectable about evil.